The breadth of attention in old age
AbstractOlder adults typically have more difficulties than younger ones in situations that require attention in the visual periphery, such as driving a car or riding a bicycle. Previous studies accordingly found that the breadth of attention decreases in old age when one attention-demanding task is presented at fixation and simultaneously another one in the visual periphery. The present work evaluates the role of eye position for the observed deficit by presenting both tasks in the visual periphery (condition peripheral-peripheral) or by leaving it up to the subjects where in the visual field the tasks appear (condition free-gaze). Our data indicate that attention breadth decreases by 27% from the age of early 20 to the age of late 60 in both conditions. This outcome generalizes previous findings about age-related attention deficits to scenarios that were not explored in previous studies, yet are relevant for everyday behavior.
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Copyright (c) 2012 Stefanie Hüttermann, Otmar Bock, Daniel Memmert
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